Abhorrence - abhorrent

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Two words, close in meaning and identical in etymology, can be confused because they sound alike. Both are derived from the Latin ab 'from' and horrēre, 'to stand on end, like the hair under the influence of strong emotion', through the English verb 'to abhor', which began by meaning 'to shrink from', 'to view with horror', 'to shrink' or 'to dread', and developed to mean 'to loathe', 'to hate', or 'to view with great disgust'.

  • The abstract noun abhorrence means 'the feeling of loathing, hatred or disgust' that is felt by the person who abhors something.
    • It can also mean 'the thing that has inspired the feeling', as in "The expression 'cool' is my pet abhorrence."
  • The adjective abhorrent is usually nowadays applied to the thing (or person) that has inspired the commentator to abhorrence: "He's a nice enough chap, but I find his beard abhorrent", "Racism is always abhorrent."
For a related spelling problem, go to abhor - abominate


AWE has a Table collecting some of the words that fall into this pattern.